Environment

  • Better protective shield material for nuclear waste

    The integrity and survivability of a nuclear waste package is critically important in the transport of nuclear fuel and high-level waste. Research are working on developing an outer shield material for use in packaging which is resistant to corrosion, radiation, diffusion, and thermal cycling processes that affect fuel packages during long-term storage. The material will also need to be wear-tolerant and mechanically robust so that it can survive repeated handling and transportation.

  • Geologists: Sandy could happen again

    Sandy’s storm surge hit the coast at high tide, but storm and tidal conditions were not the only cause of the devastation. Seawaters off New York’s coast have risen sixteen inches since 1778, the year of New York City’s first major recorded storm. Geologists say that due to rising sea levels, smaller storms could produce significant flooding.

  • Using hills to shelter buildings from tornadoes

    Researchers have demonstrated the influence of hills on tornadoes. The researchers’ models revealed that the height of a hill and the size of a tornado’s vortex have a significant effect on the tornado’s destructive power. The findings could be used to identify safer areas for construction.

  • U.S. formulates strategy for a new Arctic landscape

    U.S. national security officials have become increasingly concerned about the national security implications of an ice-free Arctic. The Arctic will become ice-free during the summer by mid-decade. In a strategy document, the Pentagon says: “Melting sea ice in the Arctic may lead to new opportunities for shipping, tourism, and resource exploration, but the increase in human activity may require a significant increase in operational capabilities in the region in order to safeguard lawful trade and travel and to prevent exploitation of new routes for smuggling and trafficking.”

     

  • Coast Guard to discuss new U.S. Arctic strategy

    The future of the Arctic has become a hot topic in U.S. national security, energy, and policy circles. The Washington Homeland Security Roundtable (WHSR) has organized a forum for private-sector leaders in which Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger, deputy commandant for operations of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and Captain Jon Spaner, USCG director of emerging policy, will discuss the ramifications of climate-driven changes in the Arctic for U.S. national security and maritime operations, and share insights on the role of the USCG in meeting the challenges posed by a new ocean created by rapidly melting ice.

  • Maryland preparing for sea level rise

    Maryland has 3,100 miles of tidal shoreline. A scientific report recommends that it would prudent for the state to prepare for a sea level rise of 1.4 feet by 2050.Maryland’s CoastSmart Communities Initiative (CCI) provides grant funding for coastal communities which want to reduce their vulnerabilities to the effects of coastal hazards and sea level rise by becoming ready, adaptive, and resilient.

  • Maryland preparing for sea level rise

    Maryland has 3,100 miles of tidal shoreline. A scientific report recommends that it would prudent for the state to prepare for a sea level rise of 1.4 feet by 2050.Maryland’s CoastSmart Communities Initiative (CCI) provides grant funding for coastal communities which want to reduce their vulnerabilities to the effects of coastal hazards and sea level rise by becoming ready, adaptive, and resilient.

  • Renewable fuel standard: mend it, don’t end it

    Congress should minimally modify — and not, as petroleum-related interests have increasingly lobbied for, repeal — the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the most comprehensive renewable energy policy in the United States, according to a new paper. The paper argues that RFS mandates merely ought to be adjusted to reflect current and predicted biofuel commercialization realities.

  • Sea power: extracting energy from ocean waves

    As sources of renewable energy, sun and wind have one major disadvantage: it is not always sunny or windy. Waves in the ocean, on the other hand, are never still. Researchers are now aiming to use waves to produce energy by making use of contact electrification between a patterned plastic nanoarray and water.

  • Long-term trend of saltwater intrusion in the Everglades confirmed

    Mangroves love salt water, while sawgrass depends on fresh water. Satellite imagery over the southeastern Everglades confirms long-term trends of mangrove expansion and sawgrass habitat loss near the shore. The trend is related to salt water intrusion caused by sea-level rise and water management practices. Changes in water management, such as the implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, may help offset the possible effects caused by future salt water intrusion, but restoration may not suffice if sea-level rise accelerates.

  • N.J. coastal wetlands moderated some of Hurricane Sandy’s fury

    Monitoring sensors along the New Jersey coast recorded marsh and wetland swelling during Hurricane Sandy. That swelling is an indication of marshes’ ability to absorb some of the storm surge — which, in hard-hit urban areas, had resulted in high water marks up to seven feet during Hurricane Sandy. Resilient, healthy wetlands near coastal areas have a key role in protecting local communities from hurricane-induced storm surges and flooding.

  • Policies governing rural land use can curb wildfire risks – up to a point

    Using Montana’s fast-growing Flathead County as a template, researchers hves found that moderately restrictive land-use policies can significantly curb the potential damage of rural wildfires. Highly restrictive planning laws, however, will not do much more.

  • First ever evidence discovered of a comet striking Earth

    The first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire which obliterated every life form in its path, has been discovered. The comet entered Earth’s atmosphere above Egypt about twenty-eight million years ago. As it entered the atmosphere, it exploded, heating up the sand beneath it to a temperature of about 2,000 degrees Celsius, and resulting in the formation of a huge amount of yellow silica glass which lies scattered over a 6,000 square kilometer area in the Sahara.

  • Bolstering water security in a crowded world

    With limited water and the increasing number of people depending on it – there will be more than nine billion people on the planet by 2050 — water security is tenuous. Integrated water management plans using “blue,” “green,” and “gray” water, however, can increase water security by allowing agriculture to rise to the challenge of feeding a growing world population while leaving enough water for other uses.

  • Delaware prepares for sea-level rise

    Benjamin Franklin said that that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and Governor Jack Markell of Delaware agrees. Two weeks ago he unveiled an initiative aiming to prepare his state for the effects of climate change and sea-level rise. Markell has signed an executive order requiring all state agencies to take sea-level rise into account when designing and locating state projects. The order also requires development of strategies to make state facilities and operations better prepared to deal with climate change and sea-level rise.